Red Bull preparing to develop their own power units for new 2025 F1 rules

2022 F1 season

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Red Bull is preparing to develop its own power units when Formula 1 introduces new regulations in 2025.

The team is setting up Red Bull Powertrains to run its ex-Honda engines from the 2022 F1 season. The same operation could develop engines to Formula 1’s as-yet-undefined next rules set, team principal Christian Horner said yesterday.

“It needs to be a long-term view,” he explained. “Obviously the investment into the facilities to gear up for this are quite significant.

“So you’ve got both a short-term scenario of the existing regulations and then, of course, whatever the new regulations are, we need to be in a position to obviously take that on as well.”

However he admitted the team would still be willing to team up with a power unit manufacturer if a suitable one showed interest.

“I think we won’t be beholden upon having a partner,” said Horner. “We’ve got the independence to do it ourselves. If an exciting partner comes along then of course it makes sense to look at it very seriously, whether that be an OEM or another type of partner, a battery manufacturer. It depends what the regulations are.”

Honda will continue to develop and prepare engines for Red Bull and AlphaTauri this year, while Red Bull Powertrains gears up to take over the supply from 2022.

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“We will inherit the vast majority of HRD [Honda Racing Development] UK, which is the operational side of Honda based in Milton Keynes,” said Horner. “So that gives us a standing start that already all the people that we already know and interface with we’ll look to take under the new company.

“We are in the process of setting out some of the other roles that will be filled over the next coming weeks and months. But I think the agreement that we’ve achieved with Honda just buys us time to assemble the right group of people.”

The Red Bull team has been dependent on engine suppliers since it came into F1 in 2005. Horner said their decision to invest in running its own power units will give it greater independence in the future.

“Strategically this is a big commitment by the group,” he said. “It shows their commitment to Formula 1 as well – to bring it on-site, on-campus here in Milton Keynes is an enormous undertaking. And one that truly integrates the power unit into the chassis. So I think that really we have taken control of our own destiny and that respect of integrating your power unit with chassis.”

“It puts us on an even keel with the likes of Mercedes, the likes of Ferrari and Renault, the other manufacturer teams,” he added.

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46 comments on “Red Bull preparing to develop their own power units for new 2025 F1 rules”

  1. Will be interesting to see where this goes.

  2. This is what i always thought that McLaren would do but great that Red Bull is going for it. Good story!

    1. They’ll probably sell (part of) the operation to a car manufacturer at the first occasion though. Much like Ilmor became Mercedes.

      1. Yes. I believe this what they are planning. Attracting a new manufacturer to partner will be a lot easier if you already have an integrated engine works facility ready to go.

        Perhaps there already is a back door deal done with VW/Porsche for 2025? Could this be the reason they are relatively bullish about setting up RB Power Trains? Pure speculation of course.

        If the 2025 rules are going to be based on ICE-Hybrid formula (hopefully sans MGU-H) running on “sustainable fuels”, which I expect to the another buzz word of this decade, I’d like to think that more than few manufacturers may be interested. Wouldn’t surprise me if the likes of Hyundai show interested, perhaps even Geely.

  3. Horner said they’re willing to team up with a power unit manufacturer if a suitable one showed interest. I would think that with RBs long history of engine design and manufacture they would just go it alone.
    Sorry being a bit sarcastic.
    I find it difficult to believe people as successful as the owners of Redbull, would put themselves into a situation. Where they are willing to invest $$$$ without going into partnership with an established engine designer/manufacturer.

    1. They have ‘excess money’ with the budget cap now in place.

      1. Might indeed well be part of it, though it seems a large amount of the people that will be employed with Red Bull are now part of Honda, if I read it right, so there’s at least some still that need to go, while others are hired (but, no budget cap for PU manufacturers, of course).

        Might also give them new insights into what comes with maintaining, if not developing perhaps, a PU, which might assist in making sure their chassis works better with what the engine needs to be the best they can get it.

    2. @johnrkh Not sure I understand your point. Seems to me they are wisely putting themselves in a situation where they may eventually be completely independent of needing someone else’s pu, but sure, if a potent potential partnership pops up, maybe that would be a good way to go, and perhaps save some money as well. Just that they are trying to head toward not depending on that. So, I only see positive in the ‘situation’ in which they have put themselves. For now, they indeed are in a partnership with an established engine designer/manufacturer, and even once Honda leaves and the pu rebadged, it will still be a Honda pu in all but name, only now RBR will have the ability to run with it, yeah with help from existing staff, and for example potentially a company like AVL which has been mentioned in recent days or weeks. VW or Porsche have been names mentioned as to be closely looking at F1, and no doubt keenly interested and involved in the discussions with F1 about the next pu for 2025, and would it be that hard to imagine them looking at a) a less complex and expensive pu for the next iteration, and b) a RBR team that has the facilities to take them in and hit the ground running with anger from minute one, saving Porsche/VW that cost.

      1. @robbie

        Seems to me they are wisely putting themselves in a situation where they may eventually be completely independent of needing someone else’s pu,

        There pockets aren’t deep enough for that they’ll need to get a partner and so far they’ve been quiet on that front.
        Robbie you are still confused about Honda leaving. Once this season is done so are Honda, they will not be offering any further assistance to the development of the PU.
        So far F1 has failed to get the VW/Porsche group involved because they couldn’t demonstrate an advantage for their participation, that’s unlikely to change in the short to medium term.
        AVL as far as I know are more involved with testing equipment and facilitates and improving efficiency while very recently dipping their toe into battery tech. So maybe they are looking at the possibility of helping in maintaining the PU after Honda leave and until the new regs in 25. But we don’t know what type of restrictions Honda has placed on the IP of their engine.
        Which still leaves RB with the issue if finding a new PU for 2025.

        1. @johnrkh

          There pockets aren’t deep enough for that they’ll need to get a partner and so far they’ve been quiet on that front.

          And you would know that how? Meanwhile the very title of this article and the very first line would seem to shade you opinion. Not to mention the investment they’ve just made in the Powertrain division. Do they not sound serious enough for you? And it is not time yet for them to announce a partner when they (F1) haven’t even starting formally talking about the next pu format.

          We will inherit the vast majority of HRD [Honda Racing Development] UK, which is the operational side of Honda based in Milton Keynes,” said Horner. “So that gives us a standing start that already all the people that we already know and interface with we’ll look to take under the new company.

          So yeah, I get that Honda is leaving, but it is not like their presence won’t be felt. As well from what I understand they and all the pu makers may do one final upgrade ahead of the engine freeze in 2022 so I don’t envision it to necessarily be the case that as soon as the last race of this season is done they’re outta there that minute. The 2022 and onward pu might be an upgrade from the one they’re about to start with this March.

          So far F1 has failed to get the VW/Porsche group involved because they couldn’t demonstrate an advantage for their participation, that’s unlikely to change in the short to medium term.

          You’re making an assumption as talks have not begun on the next pu and once they do in earnest there will be entities not just listening but actually providing their input as to what they would like to see or what it would take for them to enter F1, and all opinions from within F1 and without will be considered.

          Which still leaves RB with the issue if finding a new PU for 2025.

          Yup they have bought themselves time as CH says in the article, to either develop their own by then, or take on a partner as he also says is a possibility, and it is simply too early for any of that yet. Again, F1 and potential interested parties not in F1 right now, will at some point during this coming year, start to have formal meetings about the next pu format. As the direction becomes clear parties will either continue their interest or bow out. You are way jumping the gun with a lot of assumptions and speculations here.

          1. @robbie

            And you would know that how?

            Well actually it’s simple. Mercedes, Renault and Ferrari can and will develop their new PUs knowing they can use the technology in their Rd vehicles offsetting a very large amount of the costs.
            Ferrari for now at least and Mercedes can offset some of the tooling costs by selling to their customer teams. The costs of designing and developing a new engine from a clean sheet of paper is huge. The annual costs of running the team is relatively inexpensive in comparison.
            That’s why McLaren won’t do it, Williams didn’t do it. Lotus didn’t do it.
            The last time a team designed their own engine besides Ferrari and was not a large car manufacture was Jack Brabham’s team in the 60s. That was in partnership with Repco, who were at the time a very large engineering company. We need not get into the complexity of a modern F1 engine even the next gen “simplified” versions compared to engines from that era.
            Redbull can’t do either at the moment, I have actually said all along that RB need to get a partner.

            We will inherit the vast majority of HRD [Honda Racing Development] UK

            That would be the building and some of the equipment yes but no IP.

            You’re making an assumption

            No I’m not, F1 have been trying to get VW into the sport for years with zero luck. VW officially withdrew from Motor Sport at the end of 2020 and have absolutely no ambition to enter F1 or any other form of Motor Sport using ICE for the foreseeable future. Reason? Same reason Honda has left, Cost!

            Yup they have bought themselves time as CH says in the article, to either develop their own by then

            No they’re not going to do it alone.

            or take on a partner as he also says is a possibility

            Yep I said that ,

            F1 and potential interested parties not in F1 right now, will at some point during this coming year, start to have formal meetings about the next pu format. As the direction becomes clear parties will either continue their interest or bow out.

            That would be…see last sentence of last paragraph below.

            You are way jumping the gun with a lot of assumptions and speculations here.

            As always it’s been fun :)

          2. @johnrkh I don’t believe you have proved anything by spelling out the past behaviour of others. The fact is it has never been more important to do everything in-house and by all accounts it would seem RBR are building their way up to that. At least unless one simply chooses to ignore their very quotes on the matter. They sound like they will certainly take a partner if the right deal comes up but that they are going to try to not depend on anyone for the 2025 change. I’ll not assume right now what they will or won’t be doing in 4 years time, but will base my thinking in what they are saying they’re planning.

            Regarding HRD, why have you decided to exclude staff when you claim it is only the building and equipment and no IP? How do you know it is with no IP? Perhaps Honda don’t or won’t need to retain that, or all of it. You simply can’t know all the details of their deal.

            Not sure why repeating what Brawn has said about bringing potential new entrants into the discussions when it comes to the next pu, is me making assumptions and speculations. I believe him. I believe that is wise.

          3. @robbie I need to apologise about something I said regarding Honda, apparently they will be assembling the RB engine in 2022.

          4. @johnrkh Good stuff. No worries.

  4. Todd (@braketurnaccelerate)
    16th February 2021, 9:24

    RedBull developing engines, Ferrari going to LeMans, McLaren in Indy… This is what happens when you free up cash with spending caps.

    1. Or simply make F1 less attractive in comparison with other series…

      1. Todd (@braketurnaccelerate)
        17th February 2021, 5:05

        Yep. So unattractive that RB is making their own engines.

  5. Very impressed with this.

    I hope they could get people like Andy Cowell to head up the project.

    1. They get most of Honda personel to keep working on the engines next year.

      1. @macleod But they’ll be working for the Red Bull-owned teams rather than Honda specifically.

        1. @jereij Yes they will be hired by Red Bull but in my lang. Mean they work for Honda but loaned by Red Bull
          Or is this a miscommunication mine side and means hired they leave Honda and come in employment of Red Bull?

          Sorry i never learned English but learned it from speaking … so gramatical i sucks a lot!

  6. The move I expected McLaren to make a few years back, RBR have beaten them to it! Red Bull have a history of controlling their own destiny, so it’s not unexpected.
    This is however a strong commitment to the sport, which has to be good. If they do indeed build the next 2025 PU, the FIA/Liberty need to be aware that RBR will increasingly use their position to shape the championship/rules to their liking. As one of only 4 PU builders they will have more influence than before.

  7. I think this will be quite attractive for a parts supplier to team up with RB once the 2025 rules are sorted. They’ve got the aero side down, if they get some good working cooperation for the power train, could be a winning partnership.

    Does anyone know when the 2025 are being fleshed out? Post 2022?

    1. @frankjaeger Perhaps partly during this year, but over the next two years at the latest.

  8. Will be embarrassing for some teams and manufacturers if a drinks company can develop a better engine than they can.

    1. Red Bull is hardly “just a drinks company” anymore

      1. That’s what Hamilton called them when Vettel was beating him.

    2. Dean Franklin, except that Marko has confirmed that Red Bull wouldn’t be the ones doing the development work – it would actually be the mechanical engineering company AVL (remember that this site has confirmed that Red bull have signed a contract with AVL to do work for Red Bull). https://www.racefans.net/2021/02/12/first-details-of-red-bulls-new-operation-to-run-ex-honda-engines-and-aim-for-works-status-in-2025/

      AVL are already an active supplier in Formula 1 – the main reason why Red Bull commissioned them to take on the role of producing the ex-Honda engines for them is because AVL are one of Honda’s major suppliers, so they already have most of the facilities in place to produce those components.

      The bottom line is that Red Bull wouldn’t be developing an engine. Red Bull would be providing the money for AVL to do the job for them, in much the same way that, for example, McLaren currently pay the engineering company Ricardo to produce engines for their road cars, and getting the right to slap their name on it – but the design would be AVL’s from start to finish.

      1. Sounds like they will also be continuing with the personnel from HRD as well, so I think that along with AVL yeah it is possible that for the 2025 change, they will produce their own pu. At least it sounds like that is what they are building themselves up for anyway. Hard to imagine that for the 2025 format they won’t need to depart from the Honda pu they have now and which will be frozen, but yeah we’ll only know as things evolve regarding the next pu format, so either RBR/AVL/post-HRD staff will indeed make their own entirely in-house, or they take on another partner like Porsche whose name pops up in the same article you cite above. Anyway, the big key being that by doing what they are doing RBR won’t have to accommodate a customer engine and compromise their car, and rather can have it designed hand in hand with their chassis, no matter to what degree we can technically call RBR’s pu ‘their own.’ It’s still their money and their facility and their commitment which is absolutely huge for F1 overall.

    3. Was embarrassing enough when a drinks company designed a better chassis than any other automotive manufacturer. Having said that, I don’t see Red Bull making enough progress with their PU. At the end of the day, their base engine was designed by Honda, and there’s only a certain amount you can flog a dead horse.

      1. @todfod Well the pu wasn’t that much of a dead horse last year, they’ll have an upgrade(s) this year, and perhaps even a final iteration ahead of the freeze. Whatever this amounts to, they’re positioning themselves in a way for the near and distant future that is far and away better than flogging customer Renault pus. We all know that until F1 becomes a bit more plug and play again in 2025, there is only one route to the titles, and that is through being a works factory team, and I don’t see how that would hurt even in a more plug and play format.

        No I certainly don’t think they’re thinking their pu is a dead horse, and if it were would they want to freeze that? If they agreed with you they probably would have just resigned themselves to being never-Champs as a Renault customer. Glad they think otherwise, and big.

      2. @robbie

        Well the pu wasn’t that much of a dead horse last year, they’ll have an upgrade(s) this year, and perhaps even a final iteration ahead of the freeze.

        It’s all relative. Sure Honda is nowhere as bad as they were between 2015 to 2017, but they were still the slowest PU in 2019. If it wasn’t for Ferrari taking a step back once their cheat was discovered, they would have been the slowest in 2020 as well. Honestly, I also wouldn’t be too optimistic on their ‘iterations’ or ‘new concepts’. They’ve failed more often than succeeded in that area.

        They haven’t been able to match Renault yet despite throwing more money at their engine program, which shows a clear lack of expertise as compared to other PU manufacturers. Which is also why they’re exiting the sport. Why would they if they genuinely believed they can win a championship? They’ve partnered with the best in the game with Red bull.. So why leave?

        So far, Red bull achieved far more success when they were running Renault PUs and Mclaren instantly got better once they switched from Honda power to Renault power.

        The way I see it, Red bull are doomed till the plug n play formula comes in to effect. They don’t have any engine development expertise and they still have the weakest PU on the grid to develop for the next few years.

        You must be an eternal optimist, because I can’t see much of a silver lining for them. The same way I didn’t when they switched to Honda power in 2019.

        1. @todfod Sounds to me like you’re living in the past a bit, but only by a season lol. 2019 is completely irrelevant right now. ‘Haven’t been able to match Renault yet?’ I assume you mean in terms of pu, and I don’t know what you would know to make that claim, but it seems obvious to me that even if Renault’s pu is better, they obviously lack in doing much with it given they are a factory works team. So what good is a ‘better’ pu if you squander it? If indeed Honda’s pu is the weakest, which I would have thought Ferrari owns that moniker for now, at least RBR have been able to make up for that and be the only ones to give Merc even a sniff of competition.

          Why would Honda leave? I’m sure you are well aware that they have a long history of doing that and the reasons are many, and have far more to do with things outside of F1.

          You may take the eternal pessimist viewpoint and call them ‘doomed’ but I can’t think of a better direction they could have taken, and predict this doomed outfit will be the only ones able to challenge Mercedes again this year and likely for the near future too. For now, as we know, everyone who isn’t Mercedes is ‘doomed’ but everyone else moreso than RBR.

          1. @robbie

            You may take the eternal pessimist viewpoint and call them ‘doomed’ but I can’t think of a better direction they could have taken

            Optimist or pessimist doesn’t even make a difference. At the end of the day, through our long debates over they past 3 to 4 seasons on the subject of Honda, I’ve been closer with my predictions so far. I stated Red bull wouldn’t win a title with Honda power, and they would achieve far lesser with Honda than they would as a customer of Renault. Which is true if you look at their stats from 2017 & 2018 and compare it to 2019 and 2020. I did also call that Honda would retire from the sport after not achieving much.. And so far, I’ve been right on that one as well.

            Im just making another claim right now that Red bull won’t win a championship up until they move away from that Honda PU. Let’s see if it works out that way. I didn’t buy in to your pro Honda viewpoint at the end of 2018…and there’s no way I would buy in to them now either.

          2. @todfod Fair comment but it isn’t too much a stretch to predict that anyone other than Mercedes would not be winning the Championships, and so the next ‘step’ is to see what happens with the wholly new cars next year. As we know it certainly isn’t all about the pu obviously or Renault would be doing better than they are if as you claim their pu is all that. And try getting away with claiming LH only wins because of their pu. So it’s going to depend on several things, and none of us know what Honda is about to bring.

  9. Can’t afford to develop the current engine as it costs too much, must freeze the tech now.

    Are looking to develop their own engine from 2025 to the new, unknown rules.

    The hypocrisy is strong with RB

    1. @marvinthemartian hm, let’s call it self-serving instead? Those new rules are (esp. in Horner’s telling, I’d note) supposed to be simplified and also several years away which would give them time to build up and then start a development, while the money can come from what’s not allowed under the team’s budget cap (and some form the extra money they get from FOM as engine manufacturer). Ie. one could it’s just about the right moment to serve them, rather than just hypocrisy.

      I will admit, coming from the Red Bull leadership, I do personally get the temptation to just go with that latter, though I prefer not to go there.

    2. Carbonized'@marvinthemartian'
      16th February 2021, 12:57

      Always was, always will be.
      I cannot help thinking of a funny scenario: Honda quit, Brown win championship with Honda left over. Honda comes back and quit again, RB win championship with Honda left over!!!????

      1. Honda will be damn if it happen. Lol. I think you’re referring Brawn? The only different is Brawn is a tech guy but i don’t think Christian know that much to compare

  10. in 2025 could let us see Williams Red Bull then if they supply engines to Williams. Pretty good strategy to widen the Red bull brand too.

  11. Red Bull have already built chassis that have beaten those built by car manufacturer’s as prestigious as Toyota, Ferrari, McLaren, Mercedes, Renault, BMW, Lotus, Alfa Romeo and Caterham despite not being a car manufacturer themselves.

    So given that they’re laying down the infrastructure now, who’d bet against them building an engine that’s the class of the field in 2025? The other teams should be very scared by this development.

    1. If they get right person (Andy Cowell?), it could be. We’ve seen how Renault spent but not getting the result.

  12. The key thing here is getting the right people involved. It’s completely irrelevant what badge is on the engine or where it was made. If you have a group of experienced people who know what they are doing and you give them the sort of budget Red Bull will throw at this, they’ll have a good chance of creating a decent power unit.

    1. @petebaldwin I suspect that the right people have already been identified and are probably being actively recruited right now.

      It is one thing running and servicing an existing engine but quite another to design and build from scratch. Would be insane to commit to this without knowing who is going to run this.

  13. there is probably a Red Bull Automotive Ltd. in 2033

    :)

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